When I drink tea it changes me

Wow, it’s midsummer already! I’m reaching out to catch up with you. Where to begin? Life is good; daughter Amelia just graduated high school, and Andy and I are still dancing. We met 23 years ago, and just hit our 20th anniversary (breaking all prior records)! And now? I have a big new story to share with you.

As I was finishing up my work at Pleasant Ridge Montessori a few years ago, I was disturbed to find that no matter how well we created a joyful space for children to integrate economically, racially and intellectually, once they left the school the kids and families mostly re-segregated along economic lines. Economic separation also looks like racial separation. We were back to nodding politely at each other. This made me upset, so in response, I created a non-profit called “Community Happens Here.” I wanted to make community happen. But… what does that mean?

One day I was railing to my sister about how we need to “go to the sidewalk” to connect with people. She asked me if I had ever actually, personally, done it. Well… no, not exactly…! So I did! It was April 4th a year and a half ago. I had this cool idea of serving tea in mugs decorated by others, and inviting folks to decorate one to leave for others to use. I had no idea if it would work but then a child proved to me it could. That one little girl taught me all I need to know. She sat with me, talked to me, and then created a little cup with this phrase: “When I drink tea it changes me.” Wow. That’s it!

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We call it Radical Sidewalk Hospitality, and I’ve done it many times since then, with tea, and lemonade and popcorn, or just water. The principle is the same – a welcoming activity, a chance to slow down, something to drink, and an opening to converse and connect. It is magical, and it works. Every. Single. Time. Check it out.

What a journey it has been. I have a cool new website. I was featured in SoapBox Media in a great article. We have a FaceBook page and are on Instagram. I also bought a building in a great location in Pleasant Ridge, that needs a lot of work. So I’m doing a series of fund/friend-raising concerts, with two more coming up on August 11th and September 8th. I am so grateful to the wonderful musicians who have donated their time and talent to help build community. Read more about the past concerts here.

I begin with community, and so I’m beginning with you, my community of friends. I hope you will enjoy reading about our progress, talk to me about your ideas, and come to one of our upcoming concerts!

In joy,
Ruth Anne

Let the fun begin!

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Tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. we will go to pick up scaffolding that Gary Vernon has generously lent to the cause, and Brandon Jones of The Old Home Revival Company will begin the makeover of this battered but cheerful building. I am posting these “before” pictures so we can all  remember how sad it was, as it gets more and more beautiful. I am so excited.

Remaking into something new

Today Andy and I went to Community Happens Here to clean up, and try out a new idea I have obsessing about. I have numerous old doors left over from deconstructing the interior of 6238 Montgomery. I want to see if I can reconstruct them into useful furniture for the new space. This is challenging for me because I am nervous around power tools. But we worked on it together and started cutting the doors into strips to be re-glued into a table top.